When your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to hold your teeth in position. Retainers are just as important as braces in the treatment. You will wear your retainer for as long as it takes for your teeth to settle into a better occlusion (bite) and for your bones, gums and muscles to adapt to your new dental arrangement. If your retainer breaks, stop wearing it and call the office as soon as possible so that your retainer can be repaired or replaced. We will also evaluate your wisdom teeth during this retention period. Contemporary orthodontics acknowledges the fact that long-term retention is often the best option to ensure to stability of perfect alignment of all teeth.
Changes After Treatment
Teeth have a tendency to change their positions after treatment. The more pronounced the misalignment of the teeth or depth of the bite, the more likely it is that there may be some shifting or relapse of the teeth or bite to their original position. This minor degree of relapse generally enhances normal settling of the individual tooth positions and will stabilize the bite. The lower front teeth have the greatest tendency to relapse. In some instances, we over-correct some teeth in anticipation of movement after the retention period. However, some relapse may occur despite our best efforts and your conscientious cooperation in wearing the prescribed elastics, headgear and retainers.
Throughout life, the bite can change adversely due to the eruption of wisdom teeth, mouth breathing and other oral habits. Later in life, adverse bone growth, the normal aging process and other maturational changes are out of control of the orthodontist.
You will notice that it is much harder to keep your teeth clean with braces. Food becomes caught in the brackets and between your teeth and can only be removed by brushing and flossing. If plaque remains on the teeth for any length of time, it can leave a permanent white scar on the surface. Brushing after meals should become part of your daily schedule. Use a soft toothbrush and brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth in small circles above and below the brackets. Your toothbrush will wear out faster because of your appliances, so be sure to replace it whenever the bristles start to fray.
A waterpik can be a useful addition, but it cannot remove the sticky plaque that adheres to the teeth. A Sonicare ultrasonic toothbrush can be used to help remove plaque. Flossing is important with braces and is accomplished using reusable floss threaders.
Please do not eat hard foods including nuts, ice, crisp taco shells, whole apples and carrots (cut them into pieces first), hard French bread crust and rolls, spare ribs, corn on the cob (cut the corn off the cob before eating) and popcorn! These foods can cause breakage of the brackets and wires. Also beware of nail biting and pen or pencil chewing habits, since these can damage your braces. Do not eat sticky foods like taffy, caramels, bubble gum or sticky candy of any sort. Use common sense about most foods. Excessive broken appliances due to careless eating habits may result in a longer treatment time.
Check your braces once a week for anything loose or bent. If a bracket or band comes loose or you break a wire, please call our office so that we can arrange an appointment long enough to repair it.
After braces are placed in the mouth it is normal for the teeth to be sore for about 2 to 3 days. Tylenol or Advil/Motrin will help relieve this discomfort. Some irritation to the cheeks and tongue is normal, but if you feel anything sharp is poking you, please call our office.
Attached to your braces, elastics (rubber bands) exert the proper force that creates the right amount of pressure to move teeth and correct your bite. In order for this force to remain constant, elastics must be worn all the time and changed a minimum of 2 times every day. Any time missed in wearing your elastics will only make your treatment take longer, so make sure to wear them as instructed. Remove them only when brushing your teeth and when eating meals. Then put them back on immediately. If you forget to wear your elastics one day, don’t double up the next day—just follow your regular instructions.
A removable appliance is carefully designed to move or hold your teeth. It is important that it is worn according to instructions and brought to each appointment. Wear your appliance at all times, even while you are asleep. It may be removed while swimming or playing vigorous sports activities. In two to three hours your speech will return to normal with the appliance in place. Avoid flipping your appliance with your tongue. This can cause damage to your teeth or breakage of your appliance.
Your new appliance may make your teeth sore for a day or two, especially after an adjustment. If you have a sore spot on your gums call our office so that we can arrange to adjust the appliance. Clean your appliance by brushing it daily with toothpaste. Denture cleaner can also be used for a more thorough cleaning. Never wrap your appliance in a paper napkin or tissue and set it down on the table. You or someone else may throw it away. Don’t put it in your pocket when playing or you may break or lose it.
Whenever it is not in your mouth it should be in its plastic appliance case.
Keep your appliance away from dogs or cats, as they love to chew on them. Avoid storing them near any source of heat. Do not boil your retainer to sterilize it! If needed, bring it to the office and we will be happy to disinfect it for you. An additional charge will be incurred for lost or broken appliances. Please bring your retainers to all appointments.
Here Are A Few Things To Remember During The Years Of Retainer Wear:
You are instructed to wear your retainer for 10 to 12 weeks full time which means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After that time you will be instructed to wear it nights only.
Don’t fold it in your napkin or leave it on the table at a restaurant. Garbage cans don’t make happy hunting grounds.
Don’t put your retainer in your pocket. You might sit on it and break it.
Take your retainer out when swimming in a lake or ocean. If it falls out you may not be able to find it. Wearing it in a swimming pool is acceptable.
Animals and younger children love to play with it. Please make sure your retainer is in your mouth at all times. Your retainer should only be out of your mouth when brushing and eating.
Your lower retainer may be a fixed retainer bonded onto your teeth. It is not considered permanent and can be broken or detached from your teeth, if you are not careful with it.
Bring your retainers to your check-up appointment. If anything happens to your retainers (i.e. it doesn’t fit, it’s broken, or it’s lost) please call us ASAP. If your lower bonded retainer wire comes out, keep it and bring it in at your next appointment for rebonding.
The first set of retainers is included in your treatment fee. Any repair, replacement of your retainer, or rebonding of your lower retainer will be additional and charged to your account.
Keep things clean! Be sure to brush your teeth without your retainers in. Do not boil your retainer or put it in hot water. Brush your retainer with a toothbrush using toothpaste or water.